EU Exit (Potential Effects)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 10th September 2015.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Scottish National Party, Glenrothes 9:30 am, 10th September 2015

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on her Department of a vote to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government believe that our relationship with the European Union needs to change. That is why we will negotiate a new settlement with the EU and put it to the people in a referendum. In the meantime, DEFRA will continue to press for reform and simplification of the common agricultural policy to ease the burden of regulation on our farmers.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Scottish National Party, Glenrothes

The question explicitly asked what assessment had been made of the potential impact of leaving the European Union. We can only assume from the Minister’s lack of answer that the answer to that question is: none whatever. The Minister will be aware that, thanks to our links with Europe, the world-class food and drink industry in Scotland—some of our products are almost as healthy as Walker’s Christmas puddings, I may add—is well on track to reach a seemingly impossible target, set by the Scottish Government, of a £1.65 billion contribution to our economy by 2017. Will the Minister give an assurance that he personally, and his ministerial colleagues, will campaign vigorously for Scotland and the UK to remain in the European Union?

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. We have some fantastically successful Scottish exports, not least Scotch whisky. Increasingly, Scottish salmon is doing well in international markets. We have a very informative debate to look forward to. There will be two sides of the debate once that negotiation is concluded. I am sure all Members will be rigorously involved in those debates.